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Jennifer Crusie -- "Anyone But You"

Poking around recommendations on Amazon.com for "comic novels" eventually led me to Anyone But You, by Jennifer Crusie, a pretty straightforward romantic comedy. The reviews were all very similar: the author won praise for her light, humorous style and good use of "narrative devices," while this particular book, being one of her earliest if not her first, was described as being simplistic compared to her later fare.

Not having read any of her later fare, I can't really say, but I suspect the reviews are pretty accurate. The book was a very enjoyable, light read, but definitely a literary potato chip.

The plot centers around just-turned-40-and-divorced Nina Askew (gotta love those telltale names), who left her high-powered all-career-no-play husband and finds herself in a tiny apartment starting a new life. The story opens with Nina at the dog pound, where she intends to get a bouncy little puppy to cheer her up (her ex had a strong anti-dog bias), but instead finds Fred, a droopy and dour basset hound who's 24 hours away from the gas chamber. Before long, Fred has managed to get Nina introduced to Alex, her dreamy downstairs neighbor, a 30-year-old, completely not-interested-in-moving-up-the-career-ladder ER doctor and movie buff who is totally hot but completely off the prospective list for being ten years younger. While not-quite-wacky hijinks ensue, the story does amble along nicely from there to the requisite (if predictable) ending.

I read a few synopses of other Jennifer Crusie books and noticed a trend, i.e., they're all about middle-aged (but still got it!) women, recovering from life's slings and arrows while finding steamy love with hot guys. As I said to laurie_robey, "I think I'm detecting a demographic." It's been my experience that you can tell who a romantic book or movie is targeted to by who the less-attractive party in the pairing. If it's a dumb drip who lands a supermodel, it's for guys. If it's a stressed-out or neurotic gal who lands a hot guy, it's for the ladies.

To that end, Anyone But You is a by-the-numbers affair straight out of Writing the Romantic Comedy, from "the cute meet" to "the Bellamy." It's funny, charming, and enjoyable, but nothing that will knock your socks off. The sex scenes came off kinda silly, but then sex scenes almost always do. Having the protagonist being Smart And Sassy Gal on one page, then breathlessly saying, "Do things to me..." on the next, is a sure-fire recipe for snorts.

-The Gneech

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
sirfox
May. 3rd, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC)
the "Chick Lit" demographic has expanded into humorous fantasy genre, too. I've found a few decent ones, they seem to follow the same formula you describe.
torakiyoshi
May. 3rd, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
*Ahem*

-=TK
frustratedpilot
May. 3rd, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
Let me get my Mom here to enlighten you further. Here is Jane Bierce, author of FUNNY BUSINESS and the upcoming THAT SPECIAL SOMEONE...

When I write a romance, I try to include serious character enlightenment and development in the characters of both the heroine and the hero so that the romance does not come off as duddy. For instance, in FUNNY BUSINESS the hero has no sense of humor. The heroine has some growing up to do, and to do that, she must face the reasons why she has to rely on humor to get through the hard places.

Now, for a little background. Until about 1982, romances were all pretty "sweet" -- meaning, no sex. But lines like Harlequin American, Loveswept, and a couple others figured out that what was on the market was a little too tame for the American audience. They opened the floodgates and most American romance writers ran through. For some reason, Harlequin American bought my book BUILDING PASSION even though I hadn't jumped on their bus. I don't write sex scenes for books where the couple are not married -- if you want that, read my book COME HOME TO LOVE -- from Zebra. I still feel as though I have a fourteen-year-old girl reading over my shoulder. Sorry -- Jane Bierce
the_gneech
May. 3rd, 2008 10:11 pm (UTC)
Tell your mom I said "Hello!" :D

*makes a note to look up her books*

-TG
hossblacksilver
May. 4th, 2008 04:09 am (UTC)
So, a chick flick in dead tree form?
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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